Our pastor always says, “Look at your friendships today and I’ll tell you where you’ll most likely end up in five years.” Relationships are critical to our growth, development, soul-nourishment, and even our success in life.

Yet, why do we so often get it wrong?

Scripture says,

Walk with the wise and become wise;
    associate with fools and get in trouble.

Proverbs 13:20

Some people stay with a group of friends that they know is bad for them because they don’t believe they deserve to or could do any better. Others, after being burned one too many times, decide to go it alone and allow only superficial acquaintances into their relationship space.

But those who are most satisfied, successful, and fruitful in life are those who’ve learned the power and the importance of healthy, mature, thriving relationships. We all need people who see the best in us, who give us the benefit of the doubt, and who will call us higher by saying the hard truth when we need to hear it.

Recently on Middays, I spoke with Dr. John Townsend about his new book, People Fuel: Fill Your Tank with Life, Love, and Leadership. He writes:

We are happiest when we know our lives revolve around people. Conversely, we are not ourselves, not our best selves when we are isolated and alone.

We’re created for community; for input and output. Things go awry when a relationship is based only on our outputs or inputs. If you feel compelled to meet everybody’s needs but you never allow others to see your vulnerabilities, and you never let them in to meet a need that you may have—that’s not a healthy relationship. It’s a one-sided arrangement.

And if you’re always leaning on the same person every time you have a hiccup in your day, you can know that you’re draining the life right out of that person. No one person is ever meant to be a source for another. Only Jesus offers an inexhaustible supply for our every need.

Dr. Townsend talked about people-drainers and people-gainers. He challenges us to seek a “Life-Team”—a group of three to ten people (not a literal group; they can be from all different parts of your life) who get you, who love you, and who see the best in you. These people have earned the right to speak into your life and you into theirs.

Since the world is full of people-drainers, we’ll never make it without the people-gainers: those who love us for us and who are in our corner.

Dr. Townsend further writes:

Just as good nutrition is necessary for a healthy body and physical energy, so the right kinds of relationships are critical to living a successful and confident life.

If you’ve been going it alone or relying solely on one person to be your everything, it’s time to build a life team and move to the next level in life, relationships, and emotional health.

God wants to take you to the next place He has for you and you’ll need your tribe to stand with you, and you with them.

Someone with many so-called friends may end up friendless,
    but a true friend is closer than a brother.

Proverbs 18:24

Healthy friendships